Fukushima’s guardian of animals cares for critters in a radioactive zone

Naoto Matsumura has chosen to live where, frankly, nobody should. But the Japanese farmer has made headlines around the world for remaining hunkered down in the Fukushima no-go zone. Why? Because of his love of animals.

“I have lived in my home in Tomioka town even since the town became part of the evacuation zone due to the radiation leak from the Fukushima Dai Ichi nuclear power plant,” he explains on his blog. “And I’ve been rescuing and taking care of animals like cats, dogs, cows.”

“I can’t imagine what’s going to happen to me next, but I believe it’s my battle to stay here,” he writes on his blog, Living in the evacuation zone ~ Naoto Matsumura’s struggle.


The 2011 meltdown sent tens of thousands fleeing for their lives, including Matsumura, a former construction worker, and his family. But he felt compelled to return. Dubbed the Guardian of Fukushima’s Animals, he has now set up a non-profit group to help support his work there. More information aboutĀ Ganbaru Fukushima – or, Hang Tough, Fukushima – can be found on his website and Facebook page.

“It is your support that gives me power to live with animals. I really appreciate people’s help,” he writes. “I will do my best to take care of my animals, so please support me.”

Meanwhile, he continues to catch cows that roam through town, bring them to his ranch and castrate bulls to keep the population down.

“I can’t put up with cows getting killed just because they were contaminated,” he notes. “They have life just like ours.”

“I’d like to watch over these animals until they naturally die,” he says.

Photos Naoto Matsumura/Facebook

About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.

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